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UK Flight Ban On Devices To Be Announced (bbc.com) 249

The UK is due to announce a cabin baggage ban on laptops, tablets and DVD players on certain passenger flights, after a similar US move. From a report on BBC: It is understood the UK restrictions may differ from the US Department of Homeland Security's ban, although details have not yet been released. Flights from 10 airports in eight Muslim-majority countries are subject to the US announcement. US officials said bombs could be hidden in a series of devices. BBC home affairs correspondent Daniel Sandford said the expected move was "obviously part of coordinated action with the US." The attempted downing of an airliner in Somalia last year was linked to a laptop device, and it appears the security precautions are an attempt to stop similar incidents, our correspondent added.
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UK Flight Ban On Devices To Be Announced

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  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 21, 2017 @12:05PM (#54081971)

    These days terrorists could kill more people detonating their explosive belts while standing in the waiting lines of TSA screening in airports.

    • by cayenne8 ( 626475 ) on Tuesday March 21, 2017 @12:14PM (#54082025) Homepage Journal
      I'm not sure why they ban in the cabin, but allow it to be packed in checked luggage...?

      Wouldn't a bomb blowing up in the luggage hold do just as much damage?

      • by rfengr ( 910026 )
        The baggage scanners use some sort of high powered x-ray back-scatter that can detect explosives.
        • by H3lldr0p ( 40304 )

          The baggage scanners use some sort of high powered x-ray back-scatter that can detect explosives.

          Sometimes...the rate of false positives is above what should be acceptable in this sort of situation but since the TSA is a jobs program they're letting that slide by.

        • The baggage scanners use some sort of high powered x-ray back-scatter that can detect explosives.

          And is this somehow different than the x-ray machine your carry-on luggage goes through at the airport? This argument makes no sense.

          • None of this makes any sense. Buses, and trains, also seem like pretty good terrorist targets, as do shopping malls, busy markets, schools, universities, etc etc.

            It's certainly not about public safety, which means it must be about something else. Some vast conspiracy, I expect.

      • by TheRaven64 ( 641858 ) on Tuesday March 21, 2017 @12:39PM (#54082221) Journal
        It's especially weird, as I'm not allowed to put a laptop in checked luggage because they don't allow large lithium-ion batteries in the hold.
      • by Anonymous Coward

        What better excuse to give agents unattended physical access to the electronics of travelers coming from "unbanned" countries?

        Remember boys and girls: physical access is root access!

      • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday March 21, 2017 @02:55PM (#54083337)

        This is not about bombs.
        This is about cloning hard drives. The ones that aren't stolen along with the laptops

      • Because this is purely a move by the US to give competitive advantage to their own carriers through several heavily used travel hubs.

        The correct move is for these hubs to impose an outgoing bad of the same items on US carriers - which they of course could do.

        The UK is just bootlicking the US as usual, because their government gave up caring about their own people quite some time ago
        and has demonstrated they will do anything to punish people for not doing what the government told them in the BREXIT vote.

        Sad

    • by houghi ( 78078 )

      People will point out that this is what happened in Brussels. Only partly true. The check lines are and where behind pilons that would have prevent them from getting near the Belgian TSA people. They did it in the check-in hall and in the Metro Station (Idiots even did it in the wrong Metro station, but that is besides the point)
      There now is a pre-check before you enter the airport. Not everybody is being checked.

    • by TWX ( 665546 ) on Tuesday March 21, 2017 @12:28PM (#54082133)

      If the point is to spread terror, the destroying an aircraft seems to be more effective than blowing up a queue. Not only is the visual of an aircraft crashing to the earth more vivid, but it demonstrates that security itself is ineffective.

      It also might be difficult to rack-up the body count in a queue. A 747 carries more than 500 passengers in a two-class layout and an A340 carries 350 in a two-class layout. It may be difficult to kill that many people with a single terrorist in a security line, especially when it seems that airport security staff have made efforts to avoid serpentine lines that switchback upon themselves when possible.

      Lastly, your comment on TSA screening lines is predicated on the terrorist already being in the United States. I expect that the point of arrivals from foreign countries is that security at the airports those flights originate from might not be as good as from a domestic airport or an otherwise Western airport. Blowing up the security line in the originating overseas airport probably won't induce the kind of terror in the West that the terrorist wants to get, so they have to get to the destination country or on a flight bound to that country to drive-home the effect. That plane needs to be on its way for the terror tactic to be attributed as they want, instead of just as local terrorism at the originating airport.

      So terrorist plays on the weakness of the security at the foreign airport where they have a greater chance of sneaking through their bomb, or else they've had a better chance of making inroads with the local security staff to smuggle their bomb through. This means airlines now have to take the step of their own security, prohibiting these kinds of devices and basically having airline staff declare an emergency if prohibited items are seen in the passenger cabln, or even to re-screen passengers at the gate prior to letting them board.

      • Quite the opposite, blowing up the airport would have a lot more of an impact. Because it would show that the whole security theater is as meaningless as it actually is.

        Then again, why bother, the whole security theater is already inconveniencing the people enough that they are more fed up with it than with the terrorists.

        • by slew ( 2918 )

          Quite the opposite, blowing up the airport would have a lot more of an impact. Because it would show that the whole security theater is as meaningless as it actually is.

          Then again, why bother, the whole security theater is already inconveniencing the people enough that they are more fed up with it than with the terrorists.

          I think you are missing the point. Terrorist don't want to show that security theater is meaningless. On the contrary, they would want our government to simply amp security up to suffocating levels (e.g., we spend $$$$$$$$$$ to counter their $). This is a classic asymmetric warfare gambit play and we are taking the bait.

          Note this doesn't say anything about how effective any actual security measure would be because as we all know, no security measure perfect and even if there were one, the TSA wouldn't be

          • by fyngyrz ( 762201 )

            Dollars, yes, but not just dollars; but impediments to commerce and comfort. For very little effort (by which I explicitly mean, nearly none), they have thrown a huge wrench into anything that involves commercial air travel. They manipulated our control-addled congress into doing the work for them. 100% successfully.

            All that was actually needed was:

            o Revamp cockpits, armor thoroughly, install rest and feed facilities for long haul flights. One time cost.
            o Reduce cabin-to-cockpit comms to "land near hospital

            • by TWX ( 665546 )

              While I agree that the TSA as we've seen it is not really making us safer, I don't think that the three items you've listed are entirely adequate. First, those only stop someone from commandeering the aircraft in the circumstances that we saw in 2001 and do not necessarily address destroying an aircraft, and second, those do not necessarily prevent access to the cockpit if conditions within the pressurized interior are changed sufficiently.

              One of the concerns about the cockpit door is a rapid depressurizat

      • by AthanasiusKircher ( 1333179 ) on Tuesday March 21, 2017 @01:25PM (#54082635)

        If the point is to spread terror, the destroying an aircraft seems to be more effective than blowing up a queue. Not only is the visual of an aircraft crashing to the earth more vivid, but it demonstrates that security itself is ineffective.

        Depends on the size of the bomb. Anything that could get through airport security is likely going to be somewhat limited in size. You could have multiple suitcase-size bombs in security at once and effectively blow up an entire airport with several of them. You don't think the "visuals" of that would spread terror?

        The empirical evidence is absolutely clear -- if terrorists REALLY wanted to spread terror, they have opportunities EVERYWHERE to do it. And many countries which have actually had a terror problem have seen it: buses blowing up, people blowing up in a major city square, etc. That kind of stuff would be much more effective in spreading terror, because it impacts people's everyday lives... getting on buses or subways or going to work. Most people don't fly on planes everyday, but if they start worrying that going to the mall puts them at risk because people are congregating there, that starts to seriously disrupt everyday lives.

        As we saw clearly a few months ago, if you really wanted to spread terror, it's just as effective (if not more so) to do it in an unexpected way -- e.g., rent a big truck and just drive through a crowd on a holiday. The fact that this doesn't happen on a regular basis (despite extremist leaders calling for people to run over people with trucks for nearly a decade -- seriously, look it up) just goes to show how small the number of mentally ill people willing to execute terrorist acts really is.

      • by judoguy ( 534886 )

        This means airlines now have to take the step of their own security, prohibiting these kinds of devices and basically having airline staff declare an emergency if prohibited items are seen in the passenger cabln, or even to re-screen passengers at the gate prior to letting them board.

        Had that happen recently on a flight from Minneapolis to Paris. After we had our boarding passes scanned and had entered the jet way.

        Inside the jet way were big, heavily armed agents, not visable from the gate, with dogs that gave us all the sniff test as we passed. I had a momentary concern since I was carrying a steak sandwich but the dogs didn't even blink. Good doggie! I didn't particularly care since it didn't slow boarding at all, but I'd not seen this domestically before,

      • If the point is to spread terror, the destroying an aircraft seems to be more effective than blowing up a queue. Not only is the visual of an aircraft crashing to the earth more vivid, but it demonstrates that security itself is ineffective.

        People tend to forget that the last time that happened, the terrorists didn't have any bombs whatsoever. They just bluffed. 9/11 worked because everyone assumed hijackers would try to live and everyone was safer going along with it because that's what had happened before. Security was ineffective because it's basic assumptions were turned upside down.

        That would be exactly true of the gate lines today: we assume terrorists would only care about the plane because last time they only cared about the plane,

    • Yes, but that would probably just kill people. People are replaceable--they can be created with unskilled labor. We're talking about downing a multi-million dollar aircraft here. Not to mention what would happen to airline profits if people become nervous about flying.

      I mean, let's get our priorities straight here.

      • by Altrag ( 195300 )

        Unskilled yes, but anything that takes 18 years to develop usually comes with a decent price tag anyway.

    • https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/... [wikipedia.org]

      this is why in most airports in EU and elsewhere, there are heavily armed troopers in armor patrolling check-in.

  • by Palms1111 ( 2786225 ) on Tuesday March 21, 2017 @12:06PM (#54081975)
    In completely unrelated news, charges for in-flight entertainment units have gone up.
    • Airlines have started ordering new planes without the seat-back entertainment systems. Given that few people use them anymore, they didn't want the extra expense, maintenance, and weight. Something tells me that Boeing saw this trend and did a study showing those personal devices to be dangerous, and reported those findings to the governments.

      • by judoguy ( 534886 )

        Airlines have started ordering new planes without the seat-back entertainment systems. Given that few people use them anymore, they didn't want the extra expense, maintenance, and weight. Something tells me that Boeing saw this trend and did a study showing those personal devices to be dangerous, and reported those findings to the governments.

        I don't know where you travel, but when I travel, particularly over seas, I see nearly all the seat back screens showing movies, etc.

  • WTF (Score:5, Insightful)

    by vux984 ( 928602 ) on Tuesday March 21, 2017 @12:07PM (#54081979)

    Wow... just nuts.

    Everyone doing short hops / day trips for business is going to howl... that's basically their entire luggage. One laptop bag. Now they have to all pack them and check them? That's a huge waste of their time.

    And everyone doing long hauls and bigger trips - the laptop is the entertainment for the cabin, to get work done in the cabin, and above all nobody wants to put their several thousand dollars relatively fragile laptop in checked baggage where the TSA gorillas and baggage handlers will either play frisbee with it or just steal it.

    How is anyone ok with putting up with this nonsense?

    • Personally, I'm more concerned that they must have a quite big hole in their security net that they cannot easily fix. I mean, there is security theater for sure, but things like the metal detectors and carry on scanners at least turn getting a weapon onto an aircraft into much more of a lottery with low odds of winning than a sure thing.

      I wonder how long before they extend this to all flights, and whether they have any ability to restore things to the status quo. Because that is one hell of a inconvenience

    • If they've got to pack more checked luggage, that artificially creates more demand for TSA-like "security" services to check that luggage. It's what they call "genius" nowadays. Or "courage". Someone was able to "innovate" within an existing market.
  • by s.petry ( 762400 ) on Tuesday March 21, 2017 @12:09PM (#54081989)

    Yesterday there was a report that a Jordanian airline banned these devices, and the first thing I thought was someone figured out how to weaponize certain laptops. This news declares that much, so yesterday's news makes more sense.

    Bomb sniffing dogs may get them, but in dozens of flights including International this year I have seen very few dogs.

    • A lithium-ion battery is basically a bomb with a small circuit saying 'don't explode, don't explode, don't explode'. They're banned from aircraft holds because the don't-explode circuits turn out not to be as reliable as previously thought. It amazes me that I'm allowed to carry a few of them onto a plane, but not a small bottle of water (though I can buy one at an overprices shop, or I can buy something a lot more flammable in Duty Free).

    • by phorm ( 591458 )

      first thing I thought was someone figured out how to weaponize certain laptops

      My guess would be Samsung. They already figured it out for the Note series of smartphones.

  • by Zorpheus ( 857617 ) on Tuesday March 21, 2017 @12:12PM (#54082007)
    And we all know what rules must have followed on this incident.
  • by TechyImmigrant ( 175943 ) on Tuesday March 21, 2017 @12:22PM (#54082071) Homepage Journal

    Like any other expensive and easily identified electronic item, laptops are routinely stolen from checked baggage by baggage handling staff. It has always been thus. Say goodbye to you Lenovo when you travel.

  • by Archtech ( 159117 ) on Tuesday March 21, 2017 @12:23PM (#54082077)

    ... all passengers will have to travel naked. Clothing can conceal bombs.

    • Just when you thought after the latest seat-size-shrinking event that sitting next to the fat guy can't get more irritating...

  • by wired_parrot ( 768394 ) on Tuesday March 21, 2017 @12:34PM (#54082175)
    And as TFA says, the UK tried a similar ban in 2006, and the result was that theft of electronic devices skyrocketed. The risk of in-flight fire also increases, as it is easier to detect a battery fire in the passenger compartment while the fire is restricted to the device and easy to contain , than in the cargo hold. If anything, this ban will make flying less safe.
    • For what it's worth, it's also not entirely clear why a bomb in the cargo hold is less dangerous than a bomb in the passenger compartment and how this new regulation would make sense if it's not more secure.

      I really don't want to fuel conspiracy theories, but maybe this is also to some extent about controls that are not seen by the passengers. Time to put tamper-evident seals on laptops?

    • Given that lithium batteries are specifically banned from being in checked baggage I wonder what the logical end to all this madness is, a black market for universal battery sales at the USA end of the flight?

    • All of this it doesn't make sense as the hand luggage is screened more thoroughly than the checked in luggage. On the x-ray they can see exactly what is inside the laptop.

      Also on some airlines you have to have batteries in your hand luggage so this gets very confusing. On my last flight from Bangkok, they went through all my luggage to find some batteries which they "saw" on the x-ray. I only had 2xAA batteries. Chaos of regulations.

  • I mean, last time I flew, I had to take my laptop out of it's bag and have it X-Rayed. I'll grant you, I didn't have to do this with my iPad or phone, granted.

    So just say, "Okay, sorry gang, but now you have to have your tablets/phones X-Rayed, too."

  • by Guspaz ( 556486 ) on Tuesday March 21, 2017 @12:44PM (#54082279)

    There appears to be collateral damage, in that these bans are impacting countries other than the US (and by extension the UK). Royal Jordanian has announced that flights between Jordan and Canada are also subject to the ban. It appears to be because those direct Jordan-Canada flights then do a hop to the US afterwards.

  • Laptop free for all in the back and we are not at fault for any lost or damaged laptops in checked backs.

  • by barc0001 ( 173002 ) on Tuesday March 21, 2017 @01:04PM (#54082519)

    They're only banning electronics on flights from certain destinations. Surely the bad people would *never* think to just fly from a non-banned airport, right?

    • by 0123456 ( 636235 )

      Let's see... maybe it's because the other airports have better security to prevent people from taking bombs on planes?

      Just an idea.

      • by PPH ( 736903 )

        If the security in the named countries is so bad, what's to stop people from just sneaking their laptop in their carry on luggage? What's the US going to do at arrivals? Confiscate what turned out to be a harmless laptop? I mean if it made it all the way here from Jordan without blowing up, what's the point?

  • by evolutionary ( 933064 ) on Tuesday March 21, 2017 @01:18PM (#54082619)
    Okay, we've seen this drama before. It keeps people scared and nervous. But there is a detail that everyone including the media seems to miss (on purpose?). Why are we such targets if the threat is real? Why are other countries, like Japan and Korea, less picked on?

    The UK and US seem to be the most frequent targets. Rather than trying to scramble to anticipate every possible method of attacking a plane (which is impossible), perhaps we should be talking about the motives and reduce attacks by addressing those. The UK had to constantly worry about Ireland until the actual issues finally got discussed. The US (and UK to lessor extent) had a way of saying "we do what we want where we want, and if you don't like it, too bad". We've probably hit some nerves. Airline threats have constantly escalated since our little invasion into Iraq (it should be noted, against UN vote) under the false pretence of their having weapons of mass destruction and created a mess. If we dropped the "Never give up, never surrender" stance we seem to have taken and ask "have we been unreasonable" maybe we'll find better answers than "react mode/keep people frightened (and potentially trigger happy)".
    • by PPH ( 736903 )

      The UK and US seem to be the most frequent targets.

      Have you forgotten France? Spain?

  • There he goes placing some anti-islamic ban in place.
  • The are some major airlines on that list, and their bottom line will be really hurt by this. Several times a year I fly from Australian to Europe, and transit via the Middle East is a good option. Middle East transit is also a good option for New York (but not LA), and my wife is doing exactly that (Qatar) next month.

    If I can't take a laptop to my final destination, I also can't take it from Australia to the Middle East. I'm not one of those constant workers on planes, but I do like to do a few hours, es

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